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Hardball With Chris Matthews

News/Business. (2012) (CC)

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Us 16, Connecticut 8, America 6, Carolyn Mccarthy 5, Jeff Gardere 5, Michelle Franzen 4, Baltimore 4, Larry Johnson 3, Nra 3, Nbc 3, Fbi 3, Malloy 3, Kristen Welker 3, Michelle 3, Washington 3, Virginia Tech 3, Sandy 3, Colin Goddard 2, Obama 2, James Johnson 2,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business.  (2012)  (CC)  

    December 14, 2012
    11:00 - 12:00am PST  

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where the number of people that are voting for -- to end gun violence are stronger than those who want to continue the nra policies of always trying to get more guns on the street as opposed to sensible gun regulation. >> congresswoman carolyn, i want to thank both of you for being with us. good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. tonight we have an hour to get on top of this horrific tragedy up in connecticut, to get our heads around it, to understand why this happened, how things like this do happen. of course take much longer. but let's get to it. we've got michelle franzen on the scene in newtown,
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connecticut, cliff van zandt, former fbi profiler and nbc oonlt. we've got psychologist jeff weiner and psychologist jeff gardere. nbc white house correspondent kristen welker, u.s. congresswoman carolyn mccarthy who entered politics after her husband was killed in a shooting on a suburban commuter train. larry johnson the president of the national association of school safety and law enforcement officials. and jamd baldwin, baltimore county police chief. first we go for an immediate update to my msnbc colleague michelle franzen. michelle, thank you for staying with us tonight. >> reporter: well, hi, chris. we're here in the newtown area of connecticut just nearby a couple of miles from sandy hook elementary where the tragic shooting took place earlier today. at this hour hundreds of residents are gathering at a nearby catholic church for a vigil, holding a prayer for those who o'have lost their lives today, those youngest lives, anywhere between kindar
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garten and fourth grade where those students were shot today. they're holding a prayer vigil and trying to comfort the families that were told lost their loved ones in this town. it's a small new england town in this area. a very rural area in the central part of connecticut here. and the school, certainly k through 4 that we mentioned, we don't have the identifications or the ages of the scho schoolchildren and their names that are being released. what we are being told is that investigators are processing that school now. they will be dealing with identification of those students and trying to return them, as governor malloy says of connecticut, back to their families so they can mourn and grieve their loss during this time. this community certainly just now getting out of the sadness and shock part and this grief heavily starting to set in. what we don't know about the shooter at this time is his exact identification. they're trying to process that information as well.
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there are numerous reports that they're trying to figure out the exact identification that they had on him at the time. but the main focus here for law enforcement and for first responders is dealing with those families who have lost those children. 18 who died at that school this morning, chris. two others that were transported to a local hospital and died later. and six adults and then also the shooter that died. so 27 people in all killed in this small area community here. and more details that we'll be learning about the heroics inside that school as this tragedy played out. we're hearing about how teachers that were in that section of the school where this happened, when they heard shouts or the shooting that started to begin, that they gathered those children and they hovered in an area, and we've seen the images of parents who were reunited with some of their children. and we've seen some of the expressions on children as they were coming out of that school today. many of them being told to cover
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their eyes as they came out of that area. again, this tragedy. we're used to hearing about this more often now in areas all around the country over the last few decades. but chris, this shooting involving some of the youngest victims this time round. >> let me ask you what we know about the time. here we are at 7:00 eastern right now in our second edition tonight. and i'm asking a very tough question. the bodies of the young children, and that's what they are, young children, 20 of them now altogether, the 18, are they still -- bodies still being held at the school, the elementary school? >> reporter: i think investigators are still trying to deal with that scene there. and we've heard from law enforcement that they are beginning to work through that school to identify the bodies, to get the bodies out of there. but we are told by one law enforcement officer that is describing the scene on the inside is that it's just, you know, very difficult to deal with, that the -- you know, the
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bodies in there that they have to deal with and what they've had to view, that it's going to take several days to actually make sure that they're able to process that scene in there. >> michelle franzen, thanks so much for joining us tonight. let me go right now to psychologist josh weiner and also psychologist jeff gardere. gentlemen, thank you. we do know a bit from all the reporting by the major organizations, "new york times" and associated press and our own n nbc efforts here that basically it was a guy who had a history of mental illness of some kind, who went to a -- got up this morning at his mother's home where they were living together, killed her, took guns that were registered in her name including an assault rifle and two semi-automatic pistols with lots of ammo, headed off to the school where she taught, entered two classrooms and after killing a number of the school administrators, the adults, began to kill a number of the students to the point where there's 20 dead now. how do you put that together? you, josh. what does it tell you? can you get to anything, if that's all you knew? >> no. it's really hard to tell exactly what was going on with this
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person. there are a lot of people in this country who have mental illness. at any one given time it's estimated that about 25% of this country is suffering from a mental health disorder. now, of course only about 1% to maybe 2% of people in this country have a really serious mental health disturbance where they might be psychotic or delusional. but you know, what people have to think about is just because somebody has a mental illness doesn't mean -- >> of course not, no. >> -- they're going to do something like this -- >> but psychosis and the ability to kill your mother and then the ability to kill 20 kids. >> you know, there are so few cases of things like this that it makes it very hard to study. you know, when we look at situations when parents kill their kids, it's called filicide. we know sometimes men in particular will kill their kids just to get back at the woman because they know that that's the most effective way to hurt the one that they really love. and so i think in this particular case maybe he killed his mom and then he wanted to kill the things that his mom loved as well, so that's why he
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went back to the school or went to the school and killed the kids that she's been involved in teaching over the years. >> let's get another view, a second opinion. jeff gardere, your view as a psychologist. i know that we're only getting the profile of this case. we're getting the fact that this 20-year-old killed his mother. then he went in and killed 26 people. and there we have it. and including all -- most of them being -- 20 of the kids being from the ages of kindergarten age to fourth grade. most of them apparently from what i'm getting, reporting, mostly closer to kindergarten. what does that mean? i mean, it doesn't happen. it rarely happens. your thoughts? >> yeah, it does rarely happen. but i think what was going on here, the possibility that he could have killed himself, killed a person who's very close to him, who's his mother, maybe someone else and then killed everything that his mother believed in, which was education and nurturing children. it tells me that, yes, this is about extreme rage but also about severe mental illness. to kill the most innocent parts
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of our society. bad enough the teachers, administrators, but to kill innocent children, this is a rage that i believe was fuelled by delusion, psychosis. he is at that age for onset possibly, we don't know, for psychosis, schizophrenia. he put on the garb, went into i suspect that fugue state, knew he was not going to come out of this thing alive, and that was his major statement about hate toward his parents, towards his mother, but especially towards the world. >> is it premeditated? >> i believe that this was premeditated. it was part of his longstanding, i believe, delusional system where this had been building up for quite some time. and why it seemed to have been meticulously planned out. but again, part of that delusion. a lot of people will say, well, he couldn't be insane if he planned this out. insanity is a legal definition. so what we know right now is that this person had some
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severe mental illness. that's all we can make as far as an educated guess. >> but legal sanity i believe is the ability to know the difference between right and wrong. >> well, he knew -- >> how do they determine that in this case? >> well, in this case we don't know what he was thinking as far as what was the difference from right and wrong. but certainly what he did was extremely wrong. it was extremely horrific. and you have to go back to the premorbid history. josh can speak about that. as to why someone would do that if we don't see a very long history of psychiatric illness, and we don't really know what his history was, whether he was on medications, whether he had problems with compliance with meds, or whether his family knew that something was going on, which i suspect they probably did. this does not come out of the blue. >> josh, i've read about people who are hired killers. and their ability, like doctors have to deal in blood, some people deal in the other kind of blood, killing people. they get used and hardened to doing almost anything you can imagine. here's a young person who apparently did nothing wrong before going in and shooting
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young kids, kindergarten age, to their face. when they're terrified. and just doing it literally in cold blood. and doing it knowing it's the real world he's in. he's not in a fantasy. how do you cross over from fantasy and psychosis into actually looking people in the eye and doing this kind of thing? >> well, when people are actually in the midst of a psychotic episode, they really can't distinguish between reality and what they're experiencing. so i think it would not be appropriate to say that just because he's doing this in real time that he actually understands and appreciates what he's doing. he may be in a complete psychotic state. i think it's very hard for people to understand that somebody can meticulously plan, they can execute something like this, be psychotic and have no idea what they're doing but yet still be able to take the steps to execute such a thing. >> what's the role of suicide in this kind of -- we know it's a suicide now. is that essential to this kind of multiple shooting? or what is it? where does it fit here? >> you know, i don't think that necessarily the suicide means
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much in terms of the real reason why he did something like this. i think that maybe he committed suicide because he knew that there was going to be no way for him to get out of such a thing without having to face massive consequences and he might not have wanted to face those things. and that may be why he -- >> jeff gardere, your thoughts about suicide and its role here in this obvious mass murder situation. >> i see it a little bit different. i will tell you by looking at many of these cases of the mass shooters, they have made a decision, we i think have found out for quite a while now that they've made the decision that this is going to be their big statement, they're going to blow their whole wad on this, they're going to create mayhem, terror, horror, and then they're going to take themselves out, there's no way they're going to come back from this, so everybody's going to die, including themselves. >> is this a statement to society they're making in their own horrible way? who are they talking to when they do this, jeff? who are they addressing with
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this horrible act, that they want to know that they did it? >> well, they're addressing the people who they feel have wronged them. but then they also address society. they tell society, you've marginalized me. you don't think much of me. you hate me. you don't want me to be part of you. and in fact, what we know, chris-s this is what they really think about themselves. and then they project it onto those loved ones and they project it out to society. so this is the way where they perhaps felt that they had absolutely no power. now they have all of the power. and that's why they can stare a child in the eyes and shoot them point blank, because they are in control of that horror. >> dr. weiner, who are they talking to? >> well, you know, i think that what they're trying to do is send a message that they mean something in this world. it's a very sick way to mean something in this world. but i've seen people in my practice who've actually talked to me about having these fantasies of going in and committing mass atrocities and then ending their own lives as well. and when i ask them about it,
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they say, well, my life means nothing. and when they look at people who seem happy, who seem like they're doing well in life, it makes them really angry. and so they feel like they want to make a difference and this is their way of doing it. >> you know a lot more than the rest of us. thank you, dr. weiner. thank you. and thank you, jeff. jeff gardere. we'll be right back with more coverage on the horrific shooting at sandy hook elementary school. ♪ g. progresso. your soups are so awesomely delicious my husband and i can't stop eating 'em! what's...that... on your head? can curlers! tomato basil. potato with bacon. we've got a lotta empty cans. [ male announcer ] hear from our chefs on facebook this friday!
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we've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years. and each time i learn the news i react not as a president, but as anybody else would. as a parent. and that was especially true today. i know there's not a parent in america who doesn't feel the same overwhelming grief that i do.
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the majority of those who died today were children. beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. they had their entire lives ahead of them. birthdays, graduations, weddings. kids of their own. among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. >> we're back. that was a very emotional president obama early this afternoon at the white house. nbc's kristen welker is live now with the latest from washington. you know, kristen, it's such an interesting and powerful moment in a presidency to realize that it's not just a political office or a governmental office, that
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being president is to be us, is to be our emblematic person and to react almost like the adult in the family, the grownup. you know? >> reporter: absolutely. absolutely. and president obama today admitting that he was responding to this tragedy not only as the president but also as a father who has two daughters. and that is how he watched these horrific events unfold. and we certainly saw that raw emotion come out when he addressed the nation a little bit earlier on today. the other thing that really stood out about his comments, chris, he talked about the need for meaningful action, saying that it is necessary regardless of the politics. he didn't go into any details today. i expect that in the coming days and weeks we will learn a little more about what specifically he meant by meaningful action. i can tell you the last time he really talked about gun control and this type of issue were in the days after that horrific shooting in aurora, colorado. the president delivering a speech to the urban league. i'm just going to read you a
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little portion of that speech, chris, because it fleshz out i think some of what was behind his words today. the president saying he believes in the second amendment but "i also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that ak-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals, that they belong on the battlefield of war and not on the streets of our cities. i believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons, that we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller, that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily." so those are some of the policy issues, i think, that are behind those words that he made today. and, again, we expect those words to be fleshed out in the coming days and weeks. i can tell you that this debate has already begun here at the white house. people going online expressing their frustration, their sadness, their grief today on the white house web site but also calling for stiffer gun legislation. so the debate about that has already begun.
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but president obama was notified about this tragedy, chris, at about 10:30 this morning by his national security adviser, john brennan. he has been receiving updates throughout the day. he reached out to the director of the fbi as well as to the governor of connecticut, governor malloy. expressed his condolences. also expressed the fact that the federal government will stand with connecticut as it deals with this unspeakable tragedy. not only emotionally, but offering up its full resources to the state of connecticut as it begins the healing process. what will undoubtedly be a long and dark process ahead for that state. the president ordered the flag lowered at half staff here at the white house and throughout washington, d.c. and to your initial point, chris, the president making it clear that this is something that is not only a tragedy for the state of connecticut but the tragedy for the nation as well. his emotions certainly overflowing today. one of really the most emotional moments that we have seen from this president.
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chris. >> i agree with you completely. just watching it on television it was overwhelming. kristen welker from the white house. we'll be back with more coverage of the tragic shooting at sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut.
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welcome back to "hardball's" coverage of the tragedy at a connecticut elementary school this morning. nbc's michelle franzen is back with us live from newtown. michelle, you're there tonight live. i wonder what it feels like. i wonder what the people of that community are all sharing right now, the grief. >> reporter: well, we've certainly felt this emotion grow throughout the day as the details of this tragedy unfolded. and at this hour they are continuing to hold that vigil that we talked about earlier at a nearby catholic church. hundreds gathering there. residents and families coming together, mourning together,
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trying to make sense of this tragedy together. i think we have a live view of that vigil at this hour. and several people have commented who are attending the vigil tonight that they just wanted to come together. that of course many of them knew of the children at the school, whether they made it out or did not survive today. and they knew the families. it's a very close-knit community here. so they're coming together, trying to offer their condolences, also trying to just make sense of what possibly could have prompted the shooter to go ahead and take such -- so many innocent lives today that -- as these tragic events unfolded. so this vigil, we'll probably see more events like this, chris, in the days to come as the community comes together to make sure that they are around for these families. of course, any time of the year, any place this would happen would be tragic. but of course we're coming upon
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the holidays and throughout town, like any other town, there's a lot of holiday decorations, christmas decorations in place. the local fire house that we talked about was supposed to be having a christmas tree event tonight. instead, they were offering refuge to those families who had lost their children today at that school. it is a close-knit community. the governor said evil has touched this community today, but they will come through this. we've also heard from secretary duncan, who also said that they will be here for newtown to make sure they get through this tragedy. and there's also been an outpouring of emotion and condolences from other communities, including columbine area in colorado as well as virginia tech. people reaching out from that area, knowing exactly what these families are going through today, what they're going to be going through in the weeks and the years ahead. >> michelle, we're watching, as you said, the governor malloy
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right there at the catholic church making his remarks right now. we're picking him up right now. let's see if we can hear him. >> in these times of troubles and travail, when the unthinkable happens in our very midst, our faith is tested. not just in the religious sense, not just necessarily our faith in god, but our faith in community, in who we are and what we collectively are. and it's in so many ways permissible to have those thoughts and doubts about who we are and what we are and what community represents. but then we turn to understand as we turn around this room and recognize our friends and our neighbors, those we have done things for and those who have done things for us. this is a great and beautiful community located in a great and
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beautiful state in a great and beautiful nation. in the coming days and in the coming weeks i would pray that you all embrace one another, that you lift one another up, that you understand the difficulties that you collectively will undergo. keep in your prayers the children who lost their lives today. keep in your prayers the adults who lost their lives today. understand that a test is just that. that which we rise to and answer and respond to. in the coming days as many of us prepare to celebrate the birth of christ, understand that that too will bring sorrow as we think about these instances that have happened so close to those days. but that too will pass and be overcome.
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and all of our prayers and the prayers and hopes of all of the public officials who have assembled here today and in the presence of your great select person, i bring and extend the condolences of the entirety of this state to you, the members of this community. may god bless you. may god bless our children who are with us today and those who were taken away. and may god bless the adults who lost their lives today. thank you. >> that's governor dan malloy. he happens to be a democrat, a fact that couldn't be less relevant tonight. i have to tell you that was a good service. i think it's so obvious that we americans and all of us around the world go to churches when things like this happen. where else can you go? that's the senator there. we'll be back with more "hardball" and our continuing coverage of the tragedy in connecticut.
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as a country we have been through this too many times. whether it's an elementary school in newtown or a shopping mall in oregon or a temple in wisconsin or a movie theater in aurora or a street corner in chicago, these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods. and these children are our children. and we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this regardless of the politics. >> meaningful action. well, today's tragedy in connecticut brings the issue of guns to the forefront of america's minds tonight.
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and president obama pledged to take that meaningful action at his white house statement earlier this afternoon. with me are two people with personal experience with gun violence, u.s. congresswoman carolyn mccarthy, of course of new york, who lost her husband in a 1993 mass shooting on that commuter train. and colin goddard is a survivor of the virginia tech shootings in 2007. he now works for the brady campaign. by the way, we called the nra, the national rifle association today, hoping to get someone from that organization on tonight. they said they're not commenting until more information is thoroughly known in this case. so they're putting off any kind of comment. it's obvious. congresswoman, thank you so much for coming on. i know this must bring back -- brings it all back. but i thought it was great. i said this. we've got to get carolyn mccarthy because her reason to be in public life, to take on the vote, to deal with public life issues, was this issue of the horror that hit your husband. >> and it was. you know, it's not funny, but i mean, yesterday in my office we sat down to plan what we were going to do for the next term. and i said listen, i came here
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to congress to reduce gun violence. and i said i want to make sure that we go full forward. we have to do something about it. you know, the president's words meant a lot to me today because his tone was different. we have to take this head on. and i know that the white house had said earlier that this was not a time to talk about gun violence. and you know what? they're right. it should have been years ago. so hopefully we wouldn't have had to go through this. there are things we can do to reduce gun violence. there are things we can do to hopefully cut down the amount of killings. but my heart goes out to the families and for those that lost their loved ones. i mean, here we have the holidays. this is when the christmas tree is up, the hanukkah lights are lit. children shouldn't have to worry about going to school and facing these kind of tragedies. but my heart breaks for the survivors and for the parents because i know what they're going to go through.
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and i know that i'll be lighting another candle tonight for all those families and praying for them. but the conversation has to go forward. >> well, you know, i remember when bobby kennedy was killed by a guy carrying a pistol. in los angeles. and johnny carson, who we all liked in those days, went on television and said i've never asked the people to ever do anything like this, but write your congressman. so i dutifully wrote my congressman. about gun control. but i've noticed over the years that the people who care about reasonable gun control, reasonable gun control, get concerned when an emotional horror like this occurs. and then a couple weeks pass and nra comes back to its fund-raising and then the only people interested in guns are those who want to protect their right to carry them. and the people concerned with the gun horrors that we're talking about here today lose interest. how do you sustain a balanced look at gun control and gun ownership in this society? >> well, i think because we have to keep that message out there all the time and not wait for a tragedy like this that happened.
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excuse me. you know, when you think about it, a couple of weeks ago we had a shooting with an nfl player. one of the commentators, i mean, he couldn't believe the hate mail he got. he couldn't believe how people came down after him. that's why people are afraid to speak out. they're afraid of the nra. they're afraid of the large lobbyists. and that's the same thing, chris, as the members of congress. whether republican or democrat, you see that, that they cow behind and not getting anything done instead of standing up. they're afraid they're going to lose their next election. well, you know, if we can save a whole bunch of lives, isn't that what we're supposed to be in congress for? it's not -- >> i understand that. >> it's not taking away the right of someone to own a gun. >> you can't be elected to united states senate in pen unless you're for gun rights totally, 100%. i just know the facts. and i know that's true in ohio and michigan, states like that. we've got another person here, colin. thank you for joining us. this -- you were at virginia tech. you were a survivor down there. and i'm glad you were.
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here you are. but a lot of people in the gun ownership side, the second amendment people who are zealots, say if a bunch of people have guns they can shoot this guy down when he walked in the door. i can imagine what will be heard in the days ahead. if some of those school officials had been armed they could have stopped him before he got to the kids. you'll be hearing that argument. your thoughts on that. >> you'll be hearing it, but i don't quite understand it. we are the most armed country in the modern world. and we have the most problems with gun violence. if more guns solved our problems, then you know, we'd be the safest country already. that's not it. i mean, the conversation that we're having now, the conversation that the vast majority of americans are having is the reasonable middle ground. is the background checks on all gun sales. that's something that gun owners, nra members support themselves. it's the leadership that has this absolute extremist approach. but the membership, the real american people understand that a background check's not going to stop them from owning a gun. so they can support that. it will prevent someone -- >> what happens, to be argumentative, these were two glocks, semi-automatic
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weapons -- >> and a bushmaster. >> yes. could you stop a person from getting access to those kinds of weapons if they broke mentally, they weren't crazy, if you will, to use a common term, when they bought the guns or they got them from somebody else who got them legally, who was of sound mind? how do you stop the easy transfer of weaponry in this country? >> well, background check. >> but the laws don't control an easy transfer. you can sell it to a friend. you can lend it to a friend. you can steal it from a friend. >> chris, there's not one thing that's going to stop all shootings. that's just unreasonable. but what we're talking about is what we -- and we can't always have the conversation about how can we prevent the last shooting that just happened. we need to be talking about the eight kids that die tomorrow. the 32 of us -- >> tell me about the bushmaster as a weapon. what are the laws on getting one? >> that's a gun that wasn't sold in our stores -- >> describe it. >> it's a high-powered military weapon. that's something that was used in war zones. >> a rifle. >> yeah. it's pretty gnarly. >> it's semi-automatic? >> most guns are semi-automatic nowadays. and look, it has no place in our society. and i think the vast majority of
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people, of gun owners realize that. that's not going to stop people from hunting or defending themselves but it will stop somebody from being able to walk into a classroom full of kids, kill his mom and -- >> let me go back to congressman mccarthy. i think you must have watched the president today when he did speak with such emotions. he actually -- he's such a cool guy. we know that. that's a non-partisan assessment. he's a cool guy. and yet today he had to stop himself for almost a minute there before he could continue talking. i think he was overwhelmed by the message he had to deliver in front of all those cameras, which is we've just been struck again by one of our own. one of our own has killed -- 28 people are dead today that would have been alive, would have been alive tonight having girn and enjoying friday night. it's a fact. and being with their families. and he had to say that to the country, that this is a nationally important issue. how do you get across the fact that this isn't just the kind of thing that has to happen, it's the kind of thing that might not happen if you do the right thing as politicians, including the president? >> well, i would say to the president there are politicians out there, you have the brady
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center that's been working on this for years. go to mayor bloomberg and get the 700 mayors that are trying to make a difference to reduce gun violence. and i agree with my colleague that, you know, it's not one thing that's going to stop all these kinds of shootings. we're talking about going over the financial cliff. we have colleagues talking about making drastic cuts to mental health. our states right now have closed their doors to young adolescents and to people that need counseling because they have anger. so i mean, these programs all have to be put in together. that's who we, as a society, and we as politicians should be doing. but i have to say, i do agree with the president today. it doesn't matter whether you're a republican or a democrat. i know an awful lot of nra members that agree on the background checks. i agree that when we passed legislation after virginia tech,
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but we haven't had it fully funded. you know, where in the courts anybody that's been adjudicated to be mentally ill has a domestic violence or a felon, they should not be allowed to have guns, but they're signature in a courtroom somewhere because we cannot computerize them because they don't have the money to do it. so it's a whole bunch of things that we can do. but all groups should come together -- >> i agree. >> -- and the nra should be working with us to try to reduce gun violence in this country. >> because it's interesting, the nra is very good at training people how to use weapons. they do care about gun safety at a certain level. and they have to understand i think without becoming, you know, a crusader on this, although maybe we all should, that it isn't a slippery slope if you say crazy people shouldn't have guns. anyway, thank you so much. carolyn mccarthy, thank you. congresswoman carolyn mccarthy of new york state. and colin goddard, thank you for coming tonight. we'll be right back. this is "hardball," by the way, with continuing coverage on the shooting at sandy hook elementary school up in connecticut.
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welcome back to "hardball." as we try to comprehend the tragic mass shooting at that elementary school up in connecticut today, the question remains, can students at school ever be 100% safe? joining me right now is clint van zandt, former fbi profiler and nbc analyst. larry johnson, president of the national association of school safety and law enforcement officials. and on the phone james johnson, chair of the national law enforcement partnership to prevent violence. he's also baltimore county police chief. mr. james johnson, chief, i want to ask you about your reaction to this and in terms of baltimore schools. is there anything that's developed since the hard days of columbine where schools take more responsibility to prevent the entry of someone who's dangerous? >> well, certainly, we don't know enough facts about what is unfolding today up north. but there's been a lot that's taken place since columbine. from the police in an active shooter situation we have immediate intervention. but the very progressive action
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taken by schools all across america as well. >> what do you recommend yourself, chief, in terms of metal detectors? say, in a tough neighborhood you can perhaps keep a kid from -- we've got the press conference starting. we have to go back to the state police press conference in connecticut to get the latest. here we go. >> and then we're going to establish -- we have a process established, i should say, in place that we're going to utilize to identify each individual. >> the identification taking tomorrow and -- [ inaudible ]. >> we're cautiously optimistic that we can have positive i.d.s by tomorrow. that's the professionals that are telling us that specifically. the medical examiner and his team. our investigators. and working together, we're hoping to accomplish that. >> does that include the body of the other male? >> the families have been notified. the preliminary identifications have been made. and through process of elimination, unfortunately, the families have been told. but, again, we want to be absolutely, positively sure. no doubt whatsoever. >> i saw fbi on the scene
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earlier. >> yes. >> what was their role? is there still a role for them right now? >> well, certainly they're with us, working with us. there were federal partners there from fbi, atf, all offering services and any specialization they have. offering ability in case something crosses state lines. there's simply stated, everyone's come together in the law enforcement community. this is a massive investigation. so many law enforcement agencies don't have to ever undertake. so we're certainly newtown state police working side by side and utilizing any resource that we may need, and we're very appreciative of all the help that we're getting. >> [ inaudible question ]. >> no. at this point in time we're confident that we have the shooter in this incident. >> can you talk about the specific classroom? was every child in that classroom now deceased? >> i'd rather not do that, quite frankly. i've been a trooper a long time, and my lieutenant to my left has
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been in law enforcement a long time. it's just something that serves no useful purpose. i'd rather not get into that. it's a horrific scene. between our mutual experience, we've never seen anything like this. it's heart-wrenching for us as it is for the families. and i just would like to just leave that at -- there. >> did he attend the school? >> i think what we've got to do, and it should be understood, we're looking at that. you know, we're looking at all the history. we'll go backwards as far as we have to go in this investigation. and hopefully, we'll stumble on answers and we'll hopefully not develop many more questions. but we want to be able to build a process and build a story. an investigation like this is like a puzzle. we want to put this puzzle together and form a complete picture so that everyone with any doubt whatsoever can truly understand what occurred. what i'd like to say is that we'll come back tomorrow in the morning, let's say 8:002349 morning, to let you know how we've progressed overnight. as we prepare the list of
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positive identifications, i want to do one list. i don't want to do it piecemeal. i don't want to do a couple here, couple there. i want to do one final list. the minute that's done we'll be here with it, and we'll also post it on our website so it's available to everybody. all right? >> what's your timeline for the other crime scene? >> -- your officers, the way they were able to get the kids out of there and keep them calm and get as many out -- >> these guys, when they got to the door, were first in the door, and the surrounding pds and the troopers, their training kicked in. this is something you train for, you train for, you plan for, you work toward, you hope to never have to use. and their training kicked in. they saved a lot of lives. they did a great job. they did a great job. extremely proud of them. i'm sorry? >> what can you tell us about the shooter? >> we'll -- i'd rather do that in the morning, once we have positive identification even of the shooter. we want to have all that information. and hopefully, we can tie up some loose ends for you first
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thing in the morning. but i'd like to leave it where we are right now and, you know, we'll fill in the void tomorrow as much as we possibly can. >> is your timeline for the other crime scene the same? >> i'm sorry. you're talking about -- >> [ inaudible question ]. >> no, the connecticut medical examiner is managing the cases, and he did request some assistance in equipment that's been brought in for him. they're there working now. >> how did you first hear about the shooter? [ inaudible question ] >> in a nutshell, it was 911 calls that came in to newtown state police, and the response was instantaneous. okay? >> from within the school? >> from school sources. >> multiple calls? >> i'm not sure. and you know, i'd be -- yes, i believe so. but i don't know how many if that was the next question. >> [ inaudible question ]. >> what are they saying about the father? >> we've been in contact with
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any authorities, our investigators with any authorities that can assist them in furthering their portion of the investigation. i do know that new jersey's been mentioned. two or three different locations have been mentioned. but not to read anything into that. if there's something significant about reaching over a state line or about doing something, you know, that may be related to this case, we're not going to hide it from you. we'll make it available to you. we'll certainly provide you with that information. but don't read something into it just because you hear that we've gone to authorities in another state. that doesn't mean anything really. >> lieutenant, with whatever resources you have here for this, how are you delegating this scene in regard to also -- [ inaudible question ]. >> it's working fine. we've got people on extended shifts, some people are going to work extra hours and suffice it to say everybody's all hands on deck. we'll get this done and we'll do whatever it takes to accomplish this in a timely fashion. all right. i'm going to end it because what i'd like to do is give you guys a break and give us a break, and
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we'll be back 8:00 tomorrow morning here. okay? thank you. >> that wases the state police press conference up in connecticut. let me go to larry johnson, the president of the national association of school safety and law enforcement officials. i think, mr. johnson, that just about every parent, especially of very young children, are going to be thinking monday morning and beginning to think over the weekend how their schools are in terms of safety. how do you as the leader of the group that's for this kind of effort to solidify the safety requirements of schools, what should schools do in reaction? the principal of a school, for example, knowing that there's going to be a public clamor for safety. what do they do? >> well, they communicate with parents. what they've always done is open line of communication. hopefully communicating through their counselors and social workers inside the school, asking them not to spend a whole lot of time allowing their children to watch this carnage as it unfolds in connecticut. as heartbreaking as it is, i think some conversations need to happen with the young people.
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but i think we need to really get our young kids away from the tv for a while so that they're not so taken in by this. this is a tragedy. >> and james johnson, your thoughts as police chief in baltimore involved in this effort. what do you think? a militant focused parent should be thinking about right now? >> well, certainly i think parents across america today should pay more attention to the gun violence issue that's plaguing our nation. and that the key to this issue is background checks. we know, we know in law enforcement that an estimated 40% of all firearm transactions occur through non-dealer sales. we know all across america based upon a recent police executive research form study that just in six cities in one week gun violence cost over $38 million. and we know that background checks work. the brady law, indisputable background check work on this brady law stopped nearly 2 million prohibited purchasers
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from federally licensed dealers. but we need to stop the 40%. and for gun owners, even if you lawfully possess these guns, lock the guns up. keep them away from the hands of people who are not suited to possess weapons. that's the big lesson i think we all should take at this point in time. >> clint van zandt, what do you think is the appropriate national debate right now on gun safety, gun control? >> well, i think there's a number of issues going on here. i agree with the chief. there needs to be background investigations done. we need to find people with mental health conditions that should preclude them from owning weapons. but again, we may well find out today, chris, that we know the two weapons, the two handguns used were actually owned by the shooter's mother. we know that earlier this week the shooter at the mall stole the weapon from a friend of his, that ar-15 that he used. so simply stopping the wrong people from buying a gun, that's not enough. we've got to do a lot of other things on the mental health
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issue as well as conflict resolution to make this whole package. >> and my colleague chris jansing is up there. chris, thank you for joining us, staying with us tonight in newtown. how is the feeling right there as we go to break right now? >> reporter: indescribable. i do think that the governor expressed what a lot of people are feeling, that evil visited here today. and it's hard to put into words. i've been to far too many of these, chris. they are all horrendous tragedies. the grief is unspeakable. there is something a little different here. we're talking about little kids who are 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old, kids who were in an elementary school who should have been learning their abcs. i should also tell you that i'm standing in front of a firehouse, which is where a lot of the parents had gathered, were waiting to be reunited with their children. and of course 20 of them were not going to leave that schoolhouse alive. it is where the governor spoke to many of those people.
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and when i saw him a little bit earlier tonight after he made a brief statement in front of cameras, he looked tremendously grief-stricken, was trying to hold back tears as well. i don't think there are any words, frankly, chris, for the mood in this community tonight. >> i was with him a couple of weeks ago, dan malloy, seems like a good man. and that's not a partisan statement. let me go back right now to cliff van zandt. you deal internationally and nationally across the country. this is not a connecticut story. the president made it a national story by his very emotional -- well, extraordinary emotional comments tonight. he said he's going to do something. what's he going to do? >> yeah, i think we expect the president to say he's going to do something. and i think congress is going to say they're going to do something. but chris, really, they're limited. i mean, we've got 310 million americans, 280 million guns. what are we going to do about the guns that are already -- we could say today you cannot buy another gun in the united states.
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we could have the strictest gun control in the world as far as purchasing weapons, and 100 years from now this could be acted out because the weapons are still going to be there. we have to deal with the systemic problem, which is more than just buying guns. >> chief johnson, i have to tell you, i live in d.c. i live right next to it. i've lived here for so many years now, and i love this town. but like so many big cities, like philadelphia where i came from, we've got violence all over the place. you know, they announced with sort of great hope that gun murders have only -- only 100 this year in d.c. you go to places like paris or rome, they don't have this kind of thing. what is it about america that is so familiar with gun violence, it just seems to be part of the territory at some point in our history, like now? >> well, certainly as your previous guest stated, the availability of firearms across this nation. and certainly, again, i do believe that 40%, 40% of all firearm sales from non-licensed dealers, you know, chris, that's like letting 40% of people walk right through the turnstiles at the airport without checking th